Derrick Austin, Torch Song

They call me Ma’am here, in The Sunshine Lounge,
the daddies and twinks weary even in the beginning
of their lives. They call me Lena, after Dietrich

and Horne, of course, their Blue Angel,
their black piece of ass on nights when beer’s cheap.
Take a seat. Unbutton your collar. Buy us a drink.

I’m singing slow tonight, feathers swishing
like the hair of a riled hound. Like my gown?
I pricked my finger so many times sewing these

gold sequins. I’m a star. They call me Southern
Cross, and they know what they like. They take
long swigs from longnecks. I’m pierced.

That’s where the light shines through. I’m less than
woman and more than man, light rocketing off
my gown, wig a dollop of blond. Listen, baby:

when I open my arms to the crowd and mouth
the night’s first note, I don’t sing; you singe.

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